Western vs. Asian beauty products – why I don’t discriminate

Author: Jenny Wu
Hi there!
Comments/Questions


  • MiraMode

    OMG .. This post (same idea) is literally sitting in my draft as I was planning to talk about this particular point .. It is very sad to see the reaction of some of the asian beauty fans to western products ,, The funny part is western products ( especially reliable lab research based cosmetics from European Pharmaceutical brands ) are so so popular in Asia and dermatologists ONLY recommend them to their patients . There are so many misconceptions about Asian skin care on the internet and some people took it so far … maybe western brands lack the mid range affordable skin care products whereas in Korea for example choices are overwhelmingly limitless , every other day a new company with new exciting products pops up ..however there is absolutely no consistency , lines get replaced and discontinued so quickly because they don’t have strong base consumers like western or other very high end Asian brands. I have been living in Korea for the past 7 years , and some of the practices that I see online don’t relate to how koreans take care of their skin . my dermatologist for instance who works for a huge cosmetics lab that produce some popular products is always pushing me to use only western products because they are consistent and based on years and years of research . however that is not my style ; I like to mix it up and use the best of both worlds without discrimination. My skin care cabinet looks exactly like skin care cabinets of my Korean friends and colleagues who have amazing skin; a healthy mix of my Asian skin care staples as well as western products and I achieved a flawless skin with this combination and lots of trial and error .. Bashing someone who recommends a non asian product or thinking they have no clue what a good serum/cream looks like is very narrow minded and laughable here in Asia. A good skin is a mix of genes , extremely healthy lifestyle , products that work for you no matter where they come from. sorry for the long comment but your post was much needed. Love your blog ??

    • Jenny Wu

      Thank you! I’ve lived in Taiwan for half my life and I agree with you – almost everyone there, beauty bloggers, magazines, talk shows, endorse western brands much more than Asian brands. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side? I just really don’t like the idea of automatically ruling a product out or thinking it’s inferior due to its origin. Of course if you’ve actually tried a product and it really doesn’t work for you, that’s a different story.

  • KR

    I definitely agree with everything you’ve written. Predictably reddit isn’t too happy with this entry lol (it’s been posed there). It’s important to keep in my that reddit is mostly white people and /asianbeauty is no different. But It’s so creepy how AB tries to “fetishize” Asian beauty and Asians in general and look down on western products. Granted, I am Asian (East Asian specifically) and I don’t even use western products because it doesn’t work for me not to mention I love the cute Korean product designs so much better, but people should be able to just use whatever works for and not be looked down upon… it’s mind boggling. :/

    • purupurupuririn

      That is correct. We are not happy because it is a complete misrepresentation of our subreddit. We do frequently discuss western products and there are even a few threads about our favorite western products. Western products are even recommended to others in threads such as our Daily Help Thread. Most users have a mix of what products we use. For exampel, I love my Stridex and you will have to pry them from my cold, dying hands. However, if we allow for Western products to be discussed extensively, then what is the point of calling ourselves /r/AsianBeauty? We might as well be a SCA duplicate. Asian products are what make us as a subreddit distinct. You wouldn’t go to r/knitting to talk about crocheting or MUA to talk about skincare. There are overlaps but it’s important to stay on topic for the sake of the subreddit’s individuality.

    • purupurupuririn

      Oh and the fetishization of Asia is one of the mout taboo things on our subreddit. It’s even in the rule. So no, we do not fetishize it at all.

    • MiraMode

      I had to delete it because of the drama and “some” of the angry responses , they were starting to criticize this blog post and that was not the reason why I wanted to share it with them honestly. I have no time for drama in my life . they can ignore it all they want but the fact is no one is on AB reddit and wants to talk “only ” about western products that is why they get down voted .. I’m not Asian myself but most of my skin care products are Asian and living here for so long I know there are way too many misconceptions shared online about asian skin care.

      • Jenny Wu

        Haters gonna hate. Which brings me to question what is there to be so bothered about this post? The only people I’m really bashing (if you can call it that even) are those close-minded folks who think Asian beauty products are absolutely superior by default. I never thought the sub was like that, and I still think most of the users are just skincare addicts who are open-minded and helpful. But clearly a few select users there aren’t, and that’s unfortunate.

    • Jenny Wu

      Really? It’s not like I’m bashing that sub or anyone on there, I’m simply pointing out a trend I noticed, and I guess it’s unfortunate that I used an example from Reddit but from what I recall, I didn’t think the original poster was trying to sabotage the sub by talking about Western products…I think they merely mentioned it in a comment (though they also failed to mention any AB products). Even one of the mods said it was fine as long as it’s not the sole focus of the discussion. Like you said, people should be able to use what they want to use, and I just wanted to remind people not to be too narrow-minded when it comes to skincare, otherwise they could potentially miss out on some great products.

  • purupurupuririn

    You completely misunderstand this subreddit. We do not condone western products. In fact, many of us integrate both western products and Asian products into our beauty routines. Sunday Riley, Klairs, CeraVe, Stridex, PC, and other Western brands are frequently mentioned. The reason for the downvotes on posts about Western products is that we are a subreddit focused primarily on Asian products. Per subreddit rules, posts completely about western products are irrelevant. This is not due to a phobia of western products but that this is what we come to the subreddit to discuss. It’s like going to MUA and talking about skincare. If you take a closer look at threads like our Daily Thread, you’ll even see non-AB product recs sometimes. But if you want to discuss a specific western product, SCA is the place to do it.

    • Jenny Wu

      First of all, the post was never about bashing the subreddit, and my first sentence even states that it’s been an amazing experience so far, even as I’m getting flak for this post. I was simply pointing out a behavior I noticed in some users, which coincidentally reflects a growing trend I’ve noticed in social media, whether it’s on Instagram or Twitter. Perhaps my mistake was using the subreddit as an example to lead to my post, but the point of this was to remind people they shouldn’t blatantly disregard a product or brand simply because of its origin.

      The particular example I noticed was actually a user who had mentioned some Western products in comment (not even a post), and she had gotten a bunch of negative votes. I even recall another user (a mod perhaps?) speaking up and saying that some members just feel really strongly keeping the sub AB, even though this user didn’t break any rules and she was fine. I’ve browsed the sub and made a few comments myself, even mentioning some non-AB products occasionally, and I’ve seen other users do the same, so I know clearly that the behavior mentioned doesn’t reflect the sub as a whole, but rather a small number of people who happen to be in the sub. To avoid confusion I’ve updated the post to include an edit that hopefully clarifies this issue.

  • Liv

    Haha this speaks out to me! In terms of face creams and makeup, I definitely vote for Korean not because I don’t like their western counterparts but because of the specific product (for example, I like Tonymoly Gel Liner better than Stila Liquid Liner). I seem to shop a lot at Koreantown, but I do use plenty of western products, especially for facial cleansers. Believe me, I love Korean ones due to the natural ingredients, smell, and sensation they leave on your face, but I haven’t found one that works long term for my skin well yet, because the number of choices are so overwhelming!

    • Jenny Wu

      Glad to hear that Liv! Yeah, the number of choices can be a curse or a blessing, depending on how you look at it. I think if I were living in Korea and am able to easily browse and purchase these products, I wouldn’t mind the choices, but it’s tough when ordering online and having to wait weeks for them to deliver, only to find out what you ordered doesn’t work with your skin at all -_-

  • Jeanne

    You’ve got some very good points dear. And I agree, each person’s skin is different and you just have to find the product that works best for you.

    http://www.jeannechristinemarie.blogspot.com

  • Alice

    wow thank you for writing this post. i don’t understand why people have to discriminate one and love the other. for instance, my cousin is so biased about etude house that she thinks all etude house or korean skincare/make up products are the best and yes, it’s tiring to hear about her blabber on and on about how korean products are so good but i’d rather leave her be then argue back. everyone raves about korean products like it’s the best while i disagree about that. i mean, in comparison to etude house, i’d still prefer, say, maybelline or revlon because they’re cheaper and they do their job. some korean products are just there because of the hype, imho :))

    and i agree with you saying what matters is how the products affect us. it’s not about the rave or whatever. it’s about the impact and how effective they are. i do like japanese bb creams, for instance, because sometimes they have the right shades for me, for asian skin but that doesn’t mean i don’t like bb/cc creams from western brands. boy do i love maxfactor’s cc cream. as for the price, i think it depends on their target budget. i disagree when people stereotype that all western products are expensive, skincare or make up-wise. they can go for the drugstore lines like maybelline instead of the high end MAC, for instance. the same for asian products. i think the whole “asian products are better” thing is also influenced by how….biased they are towards asian celebs like *cough* kpop stars? i don’t know. some people are like that in here, they believe in that kind of marketing.

    i’m so done with trying out different korean skincare products to be honest. like, i spent quite a budget for etude house’s eye cream and stuff and none of them work. as for makeup, i prefer the quality of my judgment. same goes for makeup; my cousin raves about etude’s mascara while i don’t see the reason why and opt for maxfactor’s one more.

    hada labo is probably the simplest asian skincare products that i enjoy, by far (and it’s japanese lol) …i feel like japanese products are more…light and natural (water based and all) for my sensitive skin which is why it works more. i used to try clinique’s moisturizer and though it works, it’s too expensive for my budget so i opt for hada labo which is more drugstore and college student-budget-friendly :))

    anyway, my point is, i agree with you. a combination of both is way better and is definitely my option too. i think the problem with reddit is that people there can take things too seriously / wrongly that they twist and put words into your mouth. reddit is probably fun to read but not really to participate in – it can be a scary place imo :))

  • Sarah Payne (@youglowgal)

    Reading this post and comments is quite interesting. As a western esthetician kbeauty is [a very fun] rabbit hole but even as someone who’s educated in skincare it’s overwhelming! I can see how the masses would believe Asian beauty to be of better value than Western. I’ve only recently began ordering products and so far everything I’ve tried feels like it’s working on the surface, but not on a deeper level within my skin. I’m curious to see how other brands/products compare as I continue to experiment and research.

    I’m surprised I don’t see more peptides, growth factors, or cancer/sun damage preventing antioxidants being used in kbeauty, perhaps that’s due to what another commenter stated: years and years of Western R+D.

    I will say my skin looks better and brighter than ever before, and I’ve used brightening products for years! So I’m hooked. And balance is key, like you said.

follow on instagram for more skincare + lifestyle content
follow jennywlove on Instagram for more skincare reviews!